The calibre of lifting in the Classic Women’s Open 63kg class has sky-rocketed recently and competition for a spot on Team Canada will be fierce this year. I regularly get messages from friends & teammates like “Have you seen this girl?” and “Watch out, she’s coming into your weight class!” or “So-and-so has a big deadlift too, be careful”. Does any of this worry me? Not one bit. Worrying and feeling threatened would be completely misguided.
I’ve been involved in powerlifting since 2003. I’ve grown up in this sport. Powerlifting has been a constant in my life, through school, work, relationships, starting & growing a business, health problems, winning, and losing. I’ve learned about myself and what kind of athlete I want to be. I’ve learned what I want for this sport that I love so much; a sport that has enriched my life and made me strong in ways that extend far beyond the platform.
When I started competing, it was rare to have more than 2-3 female lifters at a meet. At my first Nationals in 2005 I came in 3rd…out of a class of 3. That’s unheard of today. I recently coached at a regional-level meet where there was an entire morning session JUST FOR THE WOMEN. There were 11 women this year in my class at Nationals, and rumour has it that nothing under a 400kg total will win in 2016 and head to Texas as a member of Team Canada. Read that again – nothing under a 400 kgs raw total. It’s pretty amazing, right? I love seeing female lifters kicking ass and taking names. We’re the fastest growing division in powerlifting. It’s incredibly exciting and can only mean good things for our sport, and ultimately for Canada’s success on the podium at Worlds.
I don’t believe in tearing down my fellow competitors or hoping they fail. This will not make me a better lifter. Not only is it a waste of my energy but it lowers my dignity and respectability as an athlete, and more importantly, as a woman. Women are pitted against each other in far too many arenas already and encouraged to be ‘catty’. Rather than feeling threatened, we should be celebrating our success because it elevates us collectively. I will not allow insecurity, jealousy or just plain poor sportsmanship to pollute my experience, my competitors’ experience, or the reputation of my sport.
I am not afraid to compete against anyone. Of course I want to win – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I want to be the best but not in a pool of mediocrity. I want to compete against the best. I will work my hardest and hopefully when the day comes my best will be enough to win my class at Nationals or maybe it won’t. But if I am fortunate enough to win again, I don’t want it to be because someone else has a bad day, or because the best lifter didn’t show up. I don’t want a medal because I was the only one in my class. After 13 years in this sport and equal amounts of failure and success, this is what I know for sure: we are stronger together. I want my competitors to do well. The fact that they are so damn good is what pushes me to work harder and no matter what, I am the better for it. We all are. I can’t control what my competitors do, only what I do. I refuse to waste energy worrying or being negative. I’m putting that energy into the only things I can control: my training, my game plan, my attitude.
When the time comes and we all compete for the coveted spot on Team Canada, I want you, my competitors, to do your very best. I want us to be proud of ourselves, and of each other. I want you to hit PRs and set records. I will be honoured to find myself amongst such an elite group of women. I will be cheering for you, sincerely, with all my heart.
I look forward to it.